How Do I Get a Barn Cat To Use a Litter Box?

My barn cat won't use a litter box. What should I do?


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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 677 Posts
September 5, 20210 found this helpful
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You can mix the substance, such as dirt or hay, that your cat presently uses, with the kitty litter. Increase the kitty litter until the cat is used to it.

There are other tips on training an outdoor car to use the litter box here

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Bronze Post Medal for 2021. 31 Posts
September 18, 20210 found this helpful
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Choose a natural, unscented cat litter that won't offend their nose. Scented cat litters are a definite no-no, but even some unscented and natural cat litters, like pine pellets, can smell strong and may put your cat off.


Mix your chosen litter with soil for the first few weeks. If you've seen your barn cat doing their business outside, then select soil near to this spot - removing and disposing of any solid waste first, of course. This soil will already smell familiar to your new cat and help them make the transition to using a litter box.
Over time, you can reduce the amount of soil that you're placing in the box until you're just using cat litter.

Make sure to choose an open litter box, rather than a covered one. A larger sized litter box with high sides is also a good idea, as it may take your barn cat a while to get used to the idea of using a confined area.

Placing the litter tray down the end of a hallway or in the corner of the room may be your preference, but your barn cat may feel trapped in those areas and choose not to use a litter box there. Placing the litter box in a relatively open area will help your cat feel more confident. As your cat gains confidence, you can slowly move the litter box somewhere that you'd prefer to keep it long term.


See if you can work out where your barn cat usually does their business in your garden. If the cat tends to pee and poop in one specific spot, then that's a good place to leave a litter box in the hope that the cat may start using that instead. As the barn cat starts to use the litter box, you can gradually move it closer to your house, in the hope that she'll continue to use it.
When moving the litter box, only move it a few inches at a time. Your cat will have spent a great deal of energy working up the courage to use it, and that can all be undone if you move it too far away from the initial spot in one go.

Artificial feline pheromones can help your cat feel confident and comfortable in their surroundings. If your cat smells feline pheromones around their new litter box, they're far more likely to feel like the litter box is something familiar that they can feel happy using.


Inside, you can use a calming diffuser, which needs to be plugged in, but you can also regularly spray the litter box itself with a pheromone spray.

As you see your cat using their new litter box, praise them as they're getting out of the box and give her treats.

Cats have a sensitive sense of smell, and if their little box smells dirty, they simply won't use it. Make sure to clean out the box at least once a day, although multiple cleanings every day are preferable if you can. You'll also need to regularly empty all the litter from the box and clean the box before filling it with completely fresh litter.

Once your cat is happily using their new litter box, you can start gradually making changes if you want to. You may want to move the litter box, switch to a different litter, or switch to a covered or automatic litter box. Just make sure to make any changes slowly. You may want to keep at least one litter box that's set up with the same litter as the box that your cat has already gotten used to. That way, your cat has the choice of using this or the new setup.

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September 22, 20210 found this helpful
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Set up a litter box in a quiet place. Place your cat in it, but dont make a big deal of it. Just set her in, talk to her and praise her. If she jumps right out, that's fine. She now knows where the box is and will use it, we hope, when the time is right.


Unlike dogs that need to be housebroken, cats seem to have a natural instinct to use the box. If she goes outside the box, dont scold her. Just clean it up to remove the stain and odor, and keep trying.

Check with your local pet food store. There are products you can spray or sprinkle on the litter to encourage the cat to use it.

You could try filling the box with dirt or sand from outside and gradually transition to commercial litter.

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September 29, 20210 found this helpful

I brought home a cat that had been hanging around my parents house and had never used a litter box. I got him an oversized litter box and got it ready, put him in it and took his front paw and raked the litter with it. He still didn't understand. However, he had an accident (number two) a little later.


This is going to sound gross, but I picked up the poo with some toilet paper and put it in the litter box. I then covered up part of it and put the cat back in the litter box. He finished covering it up and has not used the bathroom anywhere else since then.

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